Carol Cooke MS Melbourne Cycle Interview
Thousands of cyclists will take to the streets of Melbourne on Sunday, 19 April, 2015 to pedal for a cause in the ninth annual MS Melbourne Cycle. They will be riding to raise $750,000 for people living with multiple sclerosis (MS), the most common neurological condition in young adults.
The MS Melbourne Cycle is a fun, non-competitive event suitable for all ages and fitness levels. There are two course options available – a 50 km course or the more leisurely 30 km. All participants will experience the spectacular views as they ride over Melbourne's iconic West Gate bridge – traffic free!
The ride starts and finishes at Princes Park, Carlton. After the ride, participants can kick back and relax at Princes Park and take in the entertainment and food stalls – the perfect end to a fun-filled and rewarding day.
Entry fees for the MS Melbourne Cycle cover the significant cost of staging the event. This allows every dollar fundraised to directly contribute to the ongoing provision of services, support, treatment and information to enable people living with multiple sclerosis to continue to live full and uncompromised lives.
Paralympic Gold Medallist Carol Cooke and Steve van Ruyven are the Ambassadors for the MS Melbourne Cycle.
'I'm very excited and thrilled to be a part of this wonderful community cycling event. I've taken part once before and I strongly urge people to register as it'll be one of the best days you'll have. When else would you be able to ride across the spectacular West Gate bridge without traffic!" says Carol.
Carol was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998 at the age of 36, after experiencing disturbing balance problems and double vision. The neurologist told her that 'your life as you know it is over. Go home and put your affairs in order before you become incapacitated."
Steve van Ruyven was diagnosed in 1996 at the age of 33. This is the fifth time he has taken part in the MS Melbourne Cycle and he says it's a wonderful opportunity to ride with thousands of people united for one cause and to raise money to help people living with multiple sclerosis.
'The ride is a big challenge for many of the participants but everyone is so enthusiastic, and the encouragement of all the volunteers spurs people on," says Steve.
'MS is a cruel disease that strikes people predominantly in their 20s and 30s, when they are building their careers, starting families and have the world at their feet," said Robyn Hunter, CEO of MS. 'With more than a thousand additional people being diagnosed each year, the demand for services and the need for research only intensify."
Registrations for the event are now open at www.msmelbournecycle.org.au.
About Multiple Sclerosis:
MS is the most common neurological disease in young adults. It is a chronic and often debilitating disease which randomly attacks the central nervous system.
The symptoms can include extreme fatigue and chronic pain, vision, cognitive, continence and mobility issues, right through potentially to total and permanent disability.
Four people every working day are diagnosed with MS – that's an additional 1,000 people each year.
MS is a lifelong disease for which there is no known cause or cure
Diagnosis of MS is typically between 20 and 40 years of age. Three quarters of people living with MS are women.
Interview with Carol Cooke
Question: What inspired you to participate in the previous MS Melbourne Cycle?
Carol Cooke: As a cyclist and having MS I wanted to see what it was all about and I was the ambassador for the event so thought it was important to take part.
Question: Which of the two course options have you participated in?
Carol Cooke: The 50km, always the long one!
Question: Do participants have to be serious bike riders or have a -special' bike to participate?
Carol Cooke: Definitely not, you just have to have a love of cycling and want to challenge yourself. It isn't a race, it is about enjoying the day and raising some much needed money for a great cause.
Question: Have you been training for the MS Melbourne Cycle?
Carol Cooke: No but I have been training. Unfortunately I can't take part this year as I will be in Adelaide competing at the Australian National ParaCycling Championships.
Question: You've participated before, what's the best part about this event?
Carol Cooke: The best part about the event is getting to ride over the Westgate Bridge. Although you aren't allowed to stop while riding it the views are amazing. Also I love meeting all the different people who are taking part.
Question: How do you raise awareness for MS?
Carol Cooke: I am an ambassador for MS so speak anywhere that people will listen, to educate people about MS.
Question: How does MS affect you, on a daily basis?
Carol Cooke: I deal with a number of different symptoms, such as my balance, neuro pain all the time in my feet, so it feels like they are on fire, fatigue (which makes training interesting sometimes) and bladder and bowel problems.
Question: Can you talk about your treatment options?
Carol Cooke: I am on a drug called Tecfidera which is a tablet that I take twice a day and other drugs for different symptoms. I also believe wholeheartedly in exercise as a form of treatment. The stronger and fitter I have become the better my MS has been.
Question: How have you learnt to deal with the symptoms associated with MS?
Carol Cooke: I won't let MS run my life, rather I like to consider myself -Living' with MS. I will make sure that I will always do some sort of exercise, but I also have learnt to read my body and if I need to rest I do. If that means have a 3 hour 'nanna" nap in the afternoon then that's what I do. I also try to limit the stress in my life.
Interview by Brooke Hunter